London: Children and adolescents with higher concentrations of urinary bisphenol A (BPA), a manufactured chemical found in consumer products, had significantly increased odds of being obese, a study has found. Leonardo Trasande, M.D., M.P.P., of the NYU School of Medicine, New York City, presented the findings of the study at a JAMA media briefing.

"In the U.S. population, exposure [to BPA] is nearly ubiquitous, with 92.6 per cent of persons 6 years or older identified in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as having detectable BPA levels in their urine. A comprehensive, cross-sectional study of dust, indoor and outdoor air, and solid and liquid food in preschool-aged children suggested that dietary sources constitute 99 per cent of BPA exposure," the study noted.

"In experimental studies, BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt multiple metabolic mechanisms, suggesting that it may increase body mass in environmentally relevant doses and therefore contribute to obesity in humans," it said.

BPA exposure is plausibly linked to childhood obesity, but evidence is lacking. Dr. Trasande and colleagues conducted a study to examine association between urinary BPA concentrations and body mass in children. The study consisted of a cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative sub-sample of 2,838 participants, ages 6 through 19 years, randomly selected for measurement of urinary BPA concentration in the 2003-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

Controlling for race/ethnicity, age, caregiver education, poverty to income ratio, sex, serum cotinine level, caloric intake, television watching, and urinary creatinine level, children in the lowest urinary BPA quartile had a lower estimated prevalence of obesity (10.3 per cent) than those in quartiles 2 (20.1 per cent), 3 (19.0 per cent), and 4 (22.3 per cent).

Compared with the first quartile, participants in the third quartile had approximately twice the odds for obesity. Participants in the fourth quartile had a 2.6 higher odds of obesity.

Further analyses showed this association to be statistically significant in only 1 racial subpopulation, white children and adolescents. The researchers also found that obesity was not associated with exposure to other environmental phenols commonly used in other consumer products, such as sunscreens and soaps.

"To our knowledge, this is the first report of an association of an environmental chemical exposure with childhood obesity in a nationally representative sample," the researchers wrote. The findings appeared in the latest issue of JAMA.

(Agencies)

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